Three years ago, we decided to formalise our partnership with charities by naming one charity each year that we would fundraise for. We are just coming to the end of our third partnership and are incredibly proud to have raised our biggest amount yet - £4,260 was donated to Chestnut Tree in 2016 by clients, business contacts and employees of Dawson Hart.

Chestnut Tree is the children’s hospice for Sussex, with a hospice near Arundel and a 28 strong team of care staff, who visit children and families in their homes across East and West Sussex. The hospice was nominated to be our charity for 2016 by our staff, and voted for by staff and business contacts. We like to choose local charities where possible, and Chestnut Tree certainly fits that bill, caring for over 300 children with life-shortening conditions, and their families.

Asking staff and business contacts to get involved in choosing our charity means that everyone feels connected to the cause, and is keen to support our fundraising events throughout the year. Our three big events for 2016 were an Easter Egg hunt at Uckfield Rugby Club, a Halloween Fright Night at the Cinque Ports and a Christmas drinks party featuring a festive jumper competition.

Alongside these, the whole team have got involved with things like bake sales and dress down days and a group of ladies took part in Chestnut Tree’s Night to Remember midnight walk in May.

We have seen so many benefits of charity partnerships here at Dawson Hart. The opportunities for team building have been fantastic, with people pulling together to put on an event, teams having the opportunity to get together outside of the work environment, and a real sense of achievement and pride across the firm at what we have achieved. Everyone has wanted to be involved and everyone has done their bit, and I really can’t thank our incredible staff enough for that.

We’ve also noticed a real uplift in our local profile through our charity partnerships. It’s shown our more human side, people have noticed that we are helping to make a difference to others and, whilst I’m sure it’s not the deciding factor in who to instruct, clients have told me that that they have taken this into account when choosing us.

Whilst the prospect of fundraising and putting on events can seem daunting, Chestnut Tree has really supported us. We’ve had a dedicated fundraiser who has come along to all of our events, provided fundraising materials and always been on the end of the phone to offer support or advice.

When we first chose Chestnut Tree we were keen to find out more about the charity and the work they do, so one of their team came to talk to our fundraising committee. Understanding the very real difference the hospice makes to the lives of local children and their families – offering them support, care and respite during some incredibly tough times – was very moving and motivated us to do all we could for them.

All in all, 2016 was a very positive year for our charity partnership. Our clients and business associates have been amazing; attending events, donating prizes, contributing to collecting tins and sponsoring the team.

I really would recommend charity partnerships to any business, of any size. You can do as much or as little as you feel able, but the rewards are great; both for the charity involved and your business.

PUT YOUR HANDS UP! FOR CHESTNUT TREE

Chestnut Tree is the children’s hospice for East and West Sussex, and South East Hampshire. Each year they look after hundreds of local children with life-shortening conditions, alongside their siblings and families, giving them the chance to live life to the full. But it’s not enough, because for every child with a life-shortening condition that Chestnut Tree cares for, there is another with their hands up waiting for help.

The cost of all care services provided by Chestnut Tree is over £3.5 million every year and less than seven pence in every pound of this is funded by central government. So to reach their goal - which is to double the number of children in East Sussex that they are caring for - they need to raise more money and awareness in East Sussex, and need more companies like yours to put their Hands Up!

If you would like to pledge your support you can get in touch at handsup@chestnut-tree-house.org.uk or on 01323 725095. You can find out more at chestnut-tree-house.org.uk/handsup. From advice and support to fundraising materials and PR opportunities, Chestnut Tree will be with you every step of the way.

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